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Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Cats: Symptoms & Treatment

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Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Cats: Symptoms & Treatment

What is Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Cats?

Also known as oral squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), squamous cell carcinoma in cats is a type of cancer that takes place in the mouths of felines. The two most common areas for this type of cancer to arise include the tongue as well as the upper or lower jaw.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Felines | Innovet PetAs cancer, most tumors that SCC causes has the potential to spread throughout the body, even though it begins as a contained cancerous tumor only in the mouth. So, a malignant oral tumor is one that can soon spread to other parts of your cat's body, which leads to something known as metastasis.

As a metastatic form of cancer, it has the potential to spread to the surrounding lymph nodes, which poses a dangerous threat to the overall well being of your cat. If the cancer cells move from the mouth to the lymph nodes, it can travel throughout the body and create cancer in other organs, complicating the treatment process and making it hard to get your cat into a state of remission successfully.

Knowing that SCC can evolve from a contained tumor to a metastatic case of cancer is a very daunting fact to digest. So, let's step back for a moment and focus on what you can do to help identify a possible case of SCC in your cat.

The sooner the tumor location is detected, the more effective the treatment will be because the cancer is tackled at an earlier stage. How about we explore the symptoms of oral SCC in cats!

Symptoms of Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) in Cats

The symptoms of feline cell carcinoma are important to know about, even when your cat is in tip-top shape. Simply being aware of the symptoms of feline oral squamous cell carcinoma can make such a big difference, should your cat ever fall ill with a tumor.

The most common clinical signs of oral SCC in cats are… 

  • Drooling 
  • Weight loss
  • Trouble chewing
  • Hard time swallowing
  • Inability to eat
  • Disinterest in food
  • Difficulty drinking water
  • Noticeable lump in the mouth
  • Flinching
  • Sensitivity when being pet
  • Odd smelling breath
  • Random tooth loss
  • Unexplained blood in the mouth
  • Strange way of chewing

Weight loss is a major symptom of SCC in cats, both in felines that have undiagnosed oral SCC and in cats that are being treated for feline SCC. For undiagnosed cats, weight loss stems from the lack of appetite seen in cats with SCC. Then, for the cats that are receiving chemotherapy treatments and regular radiation therapy, it's just a result of the intense medication the cats are receiving.

Is squamous cell carcinoma painful for cats?

Have you ever wondered if cats can feel the pain of squamous cell carcinoma? The answer to this question is not as straightforward.

To determine whether or not a cat will experience discomfort, we must first understand what causes their cancer in the first place: infection with an oncogenic virus called feline leukemia (FeLV). This often leads to chronic inflammation and tissue damage that cause tumors, which are ultimately fatal for felines. When it comes down to treatments like chemotherapy or radiation therapy- these two types of treatment may have adverse effects on your kitty’s quality of life due its prolonged exposure time period during such therapies; they might also be too intense for them at all!

How common is squamous cell carcinoma in cats?

Cats have the same risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma as any other animal. Squamous cells are most often found in moist areas such as their mouths and noses, but cats also develop this cancer on dry skin or hairless patches which they lick more than usual.

How Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) is Diagnosed

Unfortunately, clinical signs are hard to detect in the earliest of stages. Since cases of feline SCC are not easily recognizable in the beginning, tumors are typically the most obvious sign.

A fine needle aspiration can be used to diagnose tumors in many areas of the body. This procedure entails taking a small, hollow tube with suction attached and sucking up some cells from the tumor before putting them on a slide for examination under an electron microscope by veterinary pathologists.

The diagnosis process may vary depending what type of skin or nail bed pathology is observed through this method such as melanoma (skin), sarcoma (nail bed) or benign neoplasia which are most common founds in dogs that express outward signs like soreness at their paw pad when being palpated

To understand whether or not your affected cat has malignant tumors indicative of SCC, it's important that the vet orders a biopsy. By looking directly at the tumor size and taking a sample to the laboratory, the vet will be able to determine whether or not the raised bump is a malignant tumor like those in cases of oral squamous cell carcinoma in cats.

Since SCC tends to be invisible until symptoms become incredibly concerning, it doesn't hurt to check your cat's mouth for a tumor routinely. Though you shouldn't let the possibility rule your mind or make you feel panicked, occasionally inspecting your cat's mouth for a tumor is a productive and proactive measure to take.

If you notice that your cat appears to be dealing with an oral tumor or some other symptom, you can bring it to the attention of your vet. From there, the vet and the other professionals who see your cat will be able to come up with the appropriate treatment plan for your pet with SCC.

Speaking of treatment options for SCC in cats, let's discuss the potential ways your cat's vet might go about treating your feline friend!

How long can my cat live with squamous cell carcinoma?

The life expectancy of a cat with squamous cell carcinoma is not easy to predict. This type of cancer has an average survival rate of six months, but some cases have lasted for years under the right conditions.

The prognosis and treatment options depend on factors like where in your pet's mouth or throat it originates from, how aggressive it is as well as other health problems that might be present such as diabetes or high blood pressure which increases the risk exponentially due to their potential complications.

How to Treat Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Cats

Since this is a type of cancer to spread to other parts of the body, it's important to notify veterinary medicine professionals that you believe your cat is ill. Even if a CT scan is performed and the vet discovers that your cat doesn't have feline oral SCC after all, it's better to be overly cautious than too laid back about your cat's health.

Once oral SCC is identified as the cause of your cat's symptoms, it then becomes time for vets to intervene with a specialized treatment plan specifically designed for your pet's circumstances. Since feline squamous cell carcinoma is a form of cancer, radiation therapy will likely be part of your cat's treatment plan, though it might bring some unfortunate side effects.

Veterinary medicine professionals can also decide to remove the tumor causing your cat's cancer surgically. The veterinary medicine decision to follow through with surgical removal of your cat's tumor is taken in more severe cases of feline oral SCC.

Alternative radiation therapy

Invasive feline oral squamous cell carcinoma (courtesy of Jon Slattery) is a type of cancer that affects the mouth and throat. Unfortunately, research has shown most cats with this condition do not live past three months after diagnosis regardless of treatment options performed. This includes radical surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hyperthermia or cryotherapy; anti-inflammatory therapy also offers some hope for these unfortunate felines while being considered an experimental option in many cases." The definitive radiation therapy options are likely to involve palliative radiation as a treatment plan of choice, especially if your pet's circumstances would benefit from it. As a radiation therapy option, palliative radiation is entirely focused on minimizing not only the spread of oral SCC but also the actual size of the feline oral squamous cell carcinoma tumor in your pet's mouth.

Though palliative radiation therapy treatment is not one of the treatment options that result in a cure, it does aim to make the cancerous tumor more manageable. For cats that are healthy enough to undergo chemotherapy, palliative treatment will be prescribed as an additional measure to treating feline SCC in your pet.

For some, surgery may be the only option for a diagnosis of oral SCC. Chemotherapy can also provide relief and even remission in cases with these cancers if aggressive enough measures are taken early on. This is because radiation therapy has shown to have great success when paired up alongside surgical procedures as well! The prognosis varies depending on what kind of cancer you're dealing with but most cats that contract this type will need feeding tubes since they cannot eat anything at all due to difficulty following their treatments or simply being too sick from chemotherapy drugs already present; it's important not to forget about them and keep giving them food while they recover post-surgery, though your vet might recommend different treatment plans after examining each individual case individually first before making any decisions based

CBD Oil for Cats with Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma

All cats respond to situations in their unique ways… But when it comes to feline SCC, there's one underlying commonality that all affected cats can relate to, which is the fact that oral SCC is very uncomfortable. Even though cats frequently hide away and cover up signs of pain as best as they can, cats with SCC are still experiencing serious levels of discomfort.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma | Innovet Pet

If your cat has oral SCC, we highly suggest introducing CBD oil as a botanical supplementary part of their lifestyle. Known for its pain-relieving abilities and its calming effects, cannabidiol oil is an all-natural way of minimizing discomfort levels for the sake of helping your cat maneuver through the process of oral SCC treatment as comfortably as possible.

From capsules that are easy to swallow and chewy snacks for cats to pet-friendly CBD oils and externally-applied hemp-derived creams, Innovet has a wide array of cannabidiol products that are safe for cats. Help your cat survive the intensity of feline SCC treatments by adding CBD into the mix.

Approved by:
Dr. Sara Ochoa
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, St. Georges University
Sara Redding Ochoa, DVM was raised in north Louisiana. She graduated from LA Tech in 2011 with a degree in animal science. She then moved to Grenada West Indies for veterinary school. She completed her clinical year at Louisiana State University and graduated in 2015 from St. George’s University. Since veterinary school she has been working at a small animal and exotic veterinary clinic in east Texas, where she has experience treating all species that walk in the hospital. In her free time, she likes to travel with her husband Greg, bake yummy desserts and spend time with her 4-legged fur kids, a dog Ruby, a cat Oliver James “OJ”, a rabbit BamBam and a tortoise MonkeyMan.


Thanks for stopping by!
P.S. We Love You!

The Innovet Team

Please do not ask for emergency or specific medical questions about your pets in the comments. Innovet Pet Products is unable to provide you with specific medical advice or counseling. A detailed physical exam, patient history, and an established veterinarian are required to provide specific medical advice. If you are worried that your pet requires emergency attention or if you have specific medical questions related to your pet’s current or chronic health conditions, please contact or visit your local/preferred veterinarian, an animal-specific poison control hotline, or your local emergency veterinary care center.

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